The Ontario government announced Oct. 1, 2020 its support for personal support workers (PSWs) in the province’s long-term care homes by investing $461 million to temporarily enhance their wages, a move designed to attract and retain workers needed to care for LTC home residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The temporary wage increase, effective Oct. 1, is intended for over 147,000 workers who deliver PSW services and includes three dollars per hour for approximately 50,000 eligible workers in long-term care. The temporary wage increase will be reviewed on a regular basis and could extend through March 31, 2021, the province announced.
All well and good, but a PSW employed with a Sault long-term care home, who spoke to SooToday on condition of anonymity, said she and her co-workers at that home haven’t seen a dime of that money yet.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve gone over and above, and our safety measures are well implemented, but we have a lack of staff. Sometimes we’ll do double shifts because we don’t have enough staff to cover shifts. We have employees quitting," said the worker, whose name SooToday agreed not to publish because it could have implications for her employment.
She said better paying PSW jobs at the hospital are causing retention problems, which is affecting how care is delivered.
The PSW said CUPE (the union representing she and her fellow employees) have informed her the cash may be coming by the end of January.
The worker said she knows PSWs working in at least one other Sault LTC home have not received their extra pay yet.
However, the province says the money is coming.
“Funding for eligible workers providing publicly funded services in the announced sectors have begun to flow through existing agreements. In long-term care homes, wages for eligible personal support workers will be temporarily enhanced by $3 per hour worked,” wrote Scott Clark, who serves as Press Secretary and Issues Manager for Sault MPP and Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano, in an email to SooToday received Monday.
“It is important to remember that payments to eligible staff will be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2020, meaning staff will receive their wage increase regardless of delays. Some long-term care homes have begun receiving payments, and our government is working hard to extend this to all homes,” Clark wrote.
There was no explanation given for the delays.
“We should have more money because of the work we do, but I’m also in it for my patients. I see them suffering, and I don’t want to see that. This generation has paid its dues. Now it’s time for them to be catered to, and we have no time for it (due to working conditions),” the Sault PSW said.